Frank Rael is a native Questeño whose family has been in Questa for generations. He opened Franks Eats & Sweets in 2017 and recently celebrated six years in business.
One of the trademarks of his business is putting much effort and work into honoring the veterans who have served our country in the armed forces.
“I do it because they deserve our utmost honor, respect, and to be remembered,” he says.
Frank knows all too well the sacrifices veterans and their families make when they’re called to serve the country. “They leave their loved ones, and everything they know to respond to the call, but it’s also important to note that the families … left behind sacrifice a lot too. They’re always wondering and worrying about their loved ones, and they deserve our honor and respect, too.”
Frank’s maternal grandfather served in World War I and his father served in World War II. He has numerous brothers-in-law, nephews, and nieces who have also served, so his mission to give back by honoring and respecting their sacrifice, is a personal one.
Every Veterans Day and Memorial Day, Frank curates photos of local veterans to be honored at the Veterans Park in town and on the Wall of Honor at his restaurant.
While his family members who served are a big motivation for Frank’s reverence toward our veterans, he also shares a special bond and connection with his neighbor, Roger Blanco.
“Roger grew up just up the road from us and we were very close. He was like a member of our family,” Frank recalls. Currently, Roger Blanco still lives down the road from Frank.
Roger shares many stories and memories with the Raels and Frank says it’s his favorite pastime, to sit with Roger at his restaurant and reminisce on the old days.
“One time when Roger was working with us on the pastura, the hay, we would pick it up with a pitchfork because it was loose in the field, and someone threw their pitchfork and it landed in his leg! My mom was able to patch him up, but it’s something he still remembers to this day,” he recounts.
When Roger, who went on to serve in Vietnam, came home from the war, Frank’s father picked him up at the bus stop. “He was the first person he saw when he came home from the war, and that was very special to him,” Frank says.
Recently, when Frank was visiting with Roger Blanco, Roger was showing him all of his newspaper clippings and memorabilia from his time in the war. “He was telling me how much my dad meant to him and knowing my dad’s purple heart went missing, he told me he wanted to replace it, so he gave me his purple heart,” Frank says through tears. “I told him there was no way I could take that, but he told me it was because my dad meant so much to him, he wanted to ensure that my dad’s family had the purple heart to pass on to later generations.”
Recently, Frank went through surgery and has been working to fully recover. After his procedure, Roger visited him multiple times per week, keeping him company and offering his support to Frank in whatever way he is able.
“Roger is such a special person because he has a good heart. I don’t want this story to be about me, because it’s really all about him. He deserves the honor, he deserves the spotlight and respect, not me,” Frank says.